A Brief History of Teas in India - TeaOrigin

Drinking tea in India has been evolving in many ways, with every region of this vast country making its own chai variants. The history of tea goes back almost 5,000 years. There are more than 3,000 different variations of tea available in the market. The most widely consumed beverage in the world has both a historical and cultural importance that cannot be rivaled.

The origin of tea started in China. This story goes back to ancient China, more than 5000 years ago. During the time, an Emperor by the name of Shen Nung was an herbalist. Once his servant unintentionally made an herbal mix when the leaves of a wild tree fell into the boiling water. The emperor was keen to know everything about that herbal mix as the pleasant aroma drew him to drink that mix. And that is how the tea was discovered. In China, for centuries, tea has been used as a lovely drink, herbal tonic, and various other medicinal uses. 

Although the first tea was discovered by the Chinese Emperor, several parts of the world now contribute to the global tea harvest. The first tea used in England was from China. In 1823, for the first time, Indian tea was sold in London.

India is the world's one of the largest producer of tea. It was brought to India by the silk caravans that traveled from China to Europe centuries ago, though the Camellia Sinensis is also native to India, and grew in the wild long before its true worth was realized. Native Indians used the leaves as part of their diet sometimes, though mostly it was used for its medicinal properties.

How was tea discovered in India?

Tea was introduced formally to Indians by the British. The British were determined to overthrow China’s monopoly on tea, having found that Indian soil /weather was eminently suitable to cultivate these plants. So they decided to develop a tea garden in India. In 1776, Sir Joseph Banks (the great English botanist) recommended that tea cultivation be undertaken in India. In 1780, Robert Kyd did the experiments with tea cultivation in India with seeds from a consignment stated to have arrived from China. A few decades later, Mr. Robert Bruce discovered tea plants growing wild in Upper Brahmaputra Valley. In May 1823, the first Indian tea from Assam was sent to England for public sale.

The tea industry in India

The tea industry in India started to take shape by the early 1840s. The tea plants, which were first tried out in Assam, were tested in higher elevated regions like Darjeeling, and Kangra valley. After successful testing, tea plantations in Darjeeling officially began in 1841. Post-British era, the tea industry in India has flourished. 

The Tea City of India Dibrugarh is the fourth largest town after Guwahati. This city is situated on the banks of the Brahmaputra river in upper Assam, India. This city accounts for almost 50% of India's Assam tea.

India tea scripts history in 2021; highest ever production and exports of all time recorded at 1325.05 million kgs and 256.57 million kgs respectively (Sourced from Tea Board of India).